Late night host Jay Leno had a good punch line back in November when speculation was mounting that John Kerry might be the next Secretary of Defense. “Apparently this is part of America’s new defense strategy to bore our enemies to death,” quipped Leno. His second joke of the evening was even better: “the economy is so bad, MSNBC had to lay off 300 Obama spokesmen.” His third though was probably the best: “the economy is so bad, President Obama sent Susan Rice out to defend it.” (hat tip: The Daily Slog)
Kerry has ended up in Foggy Bottom instead of the Pentagon, but if President Obama’s plan is to bore America’s allies to death he’s clearly succeeding. The former Senator’s first speech as Secretary of State, delivered earlier today at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, was so excruciating that students were probably pleading to be released. It has to be one of the dullest lectures on record by a senior U.S. official, making Madeleine Albright’s speeches sound like the Gettysburg Address in comparison. Not only was it exceptionally lethargic, it was also full of badly written clichés put together by a speechwriting team that would be better suited to penning obituaries for The New York Times.
Here is a snippet, with the immortal line, “there is no longer anything foreign about foreign policy.”
Some might ask why I’m standing here at the University of Virginia, why am I starting here? A Secretary of State making his first speech in the United States? You might ask, “Doesn’t diplomacy happen over there, overseas, far beyond the boundaries of our own backyards?”
So why is it that I am at the foot of the Blue Ridge instead of on the shores of the Black Sea? Why am I in Old Cabell Hall and not Kabul, Afghanistan? (Laughter.)
The reason is very simple. I came here purposefully to underscore that in today’s global world, there is no longer anything foreign about foreign policy. More than ever before, the decisions that we make from the safety of our shores don’t just ripple outward; they also create a current right here in America. How we conduct our foreign policy matters more than ever before to our everyday lives, to the opportunities of all those students I met standing outside, whatever year they are here, thinking about the future. It’s important not just in terms of the threats that we face, but the products that we buy, the goods that we sell, and the opportunity that we provide for economic growth and vitality. It’s not just about whether we’ll be compelled to send our troops to another battle, but whether we’ll be able to send our graduates into a thriving workforce. That’s why I’m here today.
Much of the speech focused on why the State Department doesn’t really get enough funds, why lavishing taxpayers’ money on foreign aid is a good thing, and why 10,000 foreigners participated in State Department programs.
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